Franklin D. Roosevelt sits with his wife, Eleanor, and five of their six children.
Courtesy National Park Service
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Laura Kuchler's seventh-grade language arts students at West Oak Middle School in Mundelein asked: "Are any of Eleanor Roosevelt's children still alive?"
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, called Eleanor, was born in 1884. She married Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1905 and the couple had six children: Anna; James; Franklin Jr., who died at 3 months; Elliot, Franklin Jr.; and John. Eleanor died in 1962. All of their children are now dead.
Why is Eleanor Roosevelt famous? Although she was born into a very wealthy family, she had a deep sense of compassion for the poor. As a teen, she volunteered to help immigrants and campaigned for improved working conditions for women and children. She was able to help others see the injustices, especially the unacceptable living conditions in the slums of New York.
Eleanor Roosevelt became first lady in 1934 when her husband was elected to his first term as U.S. President. The country was in a financial depression. The stock market crashed, most banks closed and as many as 35 percent of people were unemployed. Roosevelt established the New Deal program that would create jobs around the country and Social Security. Eleanor continued to promote civil rights and used her position as first lady to help poor and jobless citizens. After her husband was elected into his third term of office, the world was at war, and she extended her compassion to the U.S. soldiers at duty in faraway countries by visiting them.
In 1944, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first president to be elected to a fourth term. He died the following year. Even after FDR's death, Eleanor continued to push for human rights issues as a delegate to the newly formed United Nations and was chair of the committee that wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She supported civil rights and rights for women. According to the Gallup News Service, Eleanor Roosevelt is the most admired woman in the last 50 years.
The Roosevelt children continued the family tradition of public service and so did their children. Cynthia Koch, director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, said, "One grandchild, Curtis, worked for his grandmother as her assistant at the United Nations and later the United Nations Association. He continued as a high ranking administrator with the United Nations until retirement about 20 years ago. Granddaughter Anna Eleanor is the co-chair of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, which seeks to further the work of the Roosevelt's. Her brother James has been assistant commissioner of Social Security and is active in the Democratic Party."
Check it out
The Grayslake Public Library suggests these titles on Eleanor Roosevelt and the United Nations:
• "Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt's Remarkable Life," by Candace Fleming
• "Eleanor," by Barbara Cooney
• "United Nations," by Stewart Ross
• "Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World," by Barbara A. Somervill
• "A Picture Book of Eleanor Roosevelt," by David A. Adler